Map to Success - Orienteering events generate over £9 million for economy


Hosting two concurrent international orienteering events in the Highlands proved to be a run-away success bringing in £9.4 million to the Scottish economy, VisitScotland can reveal. 

The 2015 World Orienteering Championships (WOC) and Highland 2015, the 20th Scottish 6 Days Orienteering event, were held between 31 July and 8 August this year. 

The international sporting competitions – supported by EventScotland, a team within VisitScotland’s Events Directorate – centred on Inverness, with events being held at various locations around the Highlands and Moray, including Nairn and Forres.  

An economic impact assessment carried out by Glasgow-based EKOS Limited has estimated that both orienteering competitions generated £7.4 million in Highlands and Moray and £9.4 million nationally.  

There were 6,258 participants in Highland 2015 with 1,124 spectators. Combined with 430 competitors and 305 spectators for WOC2015, both events attracted a total of 8,117 visitors over the nine days. Around 93% of visitors were from outside of Highlands and Moray region, and 86% were from outside Scotland. A total of 94% stayed overnight. 

The average length of stay for visitors from outside the UK was 8.1 days in Highlands and Moray and 9.7 days in Scotland, with overseas visitors staying 8.6 days locally and 10.8 days nationally. Three quarters of participants and 93% of spectators said they were ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’ to return to Scotland on holiday after having visited both sporting events.  

Events such as these give an enormous boost to the local visitor economy, with accommodation providers, transport operators, food and drink suppliers, visitor attractions, restaurants, shops and more all benefiting.  

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, who competed in orienteering for Scotland in his youth, attended the events and took part in a media race at Darnaway. He said: “Scotland has shown once again it can compete on the global stage by hosting prestigious events such as Highland 2015 and the World Orienteering Championships, which attract people from all over the world and generate millions of pounds for Scotland’s vital visitor economy – supporting communities and creating jobs. The success of these high-profile events is a testament to the accomplished work of the Highlands in hosting complex large-scale events with multiple venues. 

“Orienteering is a sport close to my heart, so it was a privilege to attend the events and a joy to take part in the Highland 2015 media race and experience the thrill of orienteering again.” 

In Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink – which celebrates the role that food and drink plays in shaping our economic success – a number of local and Scottish caterers supplied food for the orienteering day events.  

Half of all participants and 69% of spectators rated the food and drink at the event as ‘very high quality’ or ‘high quality’. Of those that attended Scottish 6-Days in previous years 94% of participants and 98% of spectators were more satisfied or as satisfied with the food and drink at this year’s event. 

Mike Hamilton, Chief Executive of British Orienteering said: “The combined event was a great success for orienteering demonstrating the strengths that orienteering has. The competition was between the best orienteers in the world with the successful competitors having to run hard and fast whilst navigating through the fantastic, testing, Scottish terrain. 

“The event was delivered by a mix of volunteers and professionals and, with over 600 event volunteers supporting the event, was a triumph of volunteering following in the footsteps of London 2012 and Glasgow 2014. It is true to say that without the volunteer input over the 3 year build up to the event the World Championships could not have been staged in the UK. 

“British Orienteering is very appreciative of the support that has been offered by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Highland Council and Moray Council, not just with funding but in the way they have joined in and become true partners in staging the event. 

“Staging the World Championships alongside the Scottish 6-Days has been a success and we hope that orienteering in Scotland will continue to grow on the back of this success. 

“We look forward to being able to bring another major orienteering event to Scotland in the future.”

Anne Hickling, Outgoing Chair of the Scottish 6 Days, said: “The event was a great showcase for Scotland as both an orienteering and a tourist destination. Highland 2015 was at least 50% bigger than any previous 6 Day event and with the support of Event Scotland, Moray and Highland Councils as well as local landowners and communities, we were able to stage a world class competition which many overseas orienteers will return to in the future.” 

Councillor Margaret Davidson, Leader of Highland Council said: “The Highlands has firmly established itself as a wonderful venue for international events with a reputation for high standards, good organisation and excellent courses and facilities. Hosting the championships this summer provided us with an excellent opportunity to promote the whole area as a holiday and outdoor activity destination. 

“As well as generating significant economic benefit to the local economy, I am also delighted that public awareness of the sport of orienteering has been raised and we can look forward to lasting benefits through an increased interest in the sport from schools, youth and community organisations. I would like to thank all the staff, volunteers and organisations involved for their hard work and to all the participants for making it a very memorable experience.” 

Councillor John Cowe, Chairman of Moray Council’s Economic Development and Infrastructure Services Committee, said:  “Moray was honoured to welcome so many people from so many parts of the world and to be involved in such a fantastic festival of orienteering. The events have helped to showcase what a great place Moray is to visit and I hope that the thousands who attended the orienteering events, either as competitors or spectators, have gone home to spread the word.”

29 Oct 2015
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